2019 Annual Award Winners

District I Nurse Aide of the Year

Stephanie Underwood has been a Certified Nursing Assistant for thirty-two years. Working thirty-two years in any profession represents dedication, but as a CNA it demonstrates love and loyalty. Stephanie has proven that and much more during her eighteen years at Pisgah Manor Health Care Center in Candler. Stephanie takes it upon herself to provide exceptional support and service to her residents and their family members. She always displays professionalism and has a calm and compassionate demeanor. Stephanie discerns quickly the resident’s needs and moves efficiently to provide key information, recommendations, or direction. She never gets overwhelmed with all that is before her. Stephanie demonstrates an acute sense of responsibility and is patient and understanding with all residents. She can work diligently and get unwilling residents to walk, take a shower, eat a meal, or perform additional activities of daily living. She recognizes the importance of keeping residents active and is extremely effective in encouraging participation with therapy and restorative programs. Stephanie is a mentor and role model for new and seasoned CNAs. She is so well liked by her co-workers because she is encouraging, dependable, always on task, and helpful. She promotes cohesiveness among her peers and has an infectious personality. Stephanie’s love for assisting others does not end with her workday at our facility. In addition to working fulltime, she is devoted to raising the son of a co-worker who sadly passed away with breast cancer. She also helps her co-workers and friends by babysitting, carpooling, or anything else that may be needed. Helping others truly is her life’s purpose.

District II Nurse Aide of the Year

Patricia Cunningham has worked in long term care for thirty-six years and is a Certified Nursing Assistant at Saturn Nursing and Rehabilitation in Charlotte. In her ten years at the facility, Patricia has never missed a day of work. She meets and exceeds every expectation of her responsibilities, and provides truly exceptional service to all of her residents. We feel she is an absolute angel on our rehabilitation hall and is an invaluable asset to the facility. Compassion is one of Patricia’s most distinctive qualities. You do not have to be around her long to see how much her work with the elderly means to her. Patricia makes it a point to get to know all about her residents so she can ensure she is taking the best care of them. Family members always comment that they don’t have to worry about their loved one having a bad day when she is on duty. Even the Podiatrist that comes to the facility requests for Patricia to assist on making rounds. She knows all the residents so well, is willing to help in any situation and makes the visits go smoothly. Patricia is a team player and is always willing to step up to assist her co-workers. She has a unique gift to make everyone around her feel welcomed, loved, and better about themselves. I guarantee after talking with her you walk away in a great mood and happy. Patricia shares her love of the elderly in her community as well. When she is not spending time with her children or grandchildren, she visits residents at assisted living facilities in the area, many of which were previous residents at our facility. She gets them to appointments, runs additional errands for them, and assures they are being taken care of well.

District III Nurse Aide of the Year

Deborah Moore is a Certified Nursing Assistant at Clapp’s Nursing Center in Pleasant Garden. There’s a good reason the residents here all say “no one does it quite like Deborah.” She personally understands late night back rubs mean the world and the extra time to get a resident a midnight snack is never forgotten. Deborah is a cancer survivor of Stage IV bladder cancer. Her journey to become cancer-free included sixteen operations and five different hospitals over an eighteen-year period. It was in those times of being dependent on others that she experienced some very good, and unfortunately, some not so compassionate caregivers. Even while going through cancer, she was thinking of others. During chemotherapy, Deborah and her IV pole traveled from station to station giving out snacks, blankets, or just a kind word of encouragement to those like her that were going through treatment alone. Her selfless acts did not go unnoticed by the staff at the cancer center. As she drew closer to winning her battle with cancer, her oncologist had one request – for her to go to school and become a CNA. As she was finishing her last round of chemotherapy, she started school and fulfilled his wish in 2007. On January 5th, 2018 we received the blessing of having Deborah join our team. She has worked full time on third shift ever since, and while many families do not ever get to meet her, they hear the stories from their loved one that make them forever grateful. One of many examples of her caring nature came this past September when our facility admitted a resident from Wilmington, North Carolina, just days before Hurricane Florence. The resident’s birthday was just four days after being displaced from her previous facility. Deborah, understanding how alone she must have felt, showed up on September 15th with a dozen roses in hand for the birthday girl. When asked about this, the resident stated: “I’ve never felt so at home. Because of people like Deborah, I absolutely love it here.” Not only does Deborah inspire the residents and their families, she also inspires her co-workers. She is a Weight Watcher Lifetime member and almost the entire third shift have reported she has inspired them to lose weight and live healthy lifestyles. She doesn’t take a single day for granted and she leads by example to show others that they are so much stronger than they believe.

District IV Nurse Aide of the Year

Tiffany Brown is a Certified Nursing Assistant at Sanford Health and Rehabilitation. She continuously has a smile on her face and spring in her step. Tiffany takes pride in herself and her work and brings joy and a fun loving environment to her co-workers, residents, and family members. Tiffany truly loves her work and her residents. I cannot tell you the number of times families come to the facility wanting to know where she is working on any given day, or when she will be back to work if she happens to be off. Everyone wants her caring for their loved one. Bonnie Ard, our Regional Operations Manager says, “I have worked with some of the best CNAs over my eighteen-year career in long term care, and she ranks at the very top of my list as the most dedicated CNA in the business. She is one of those CNAs you wish you could clone and have all over your facility.” Rain, wind, snow, or Hurricane Florence, Tiffany comes to her shift ready to work even when that includes long hours or double shifts. She teams up with her co-workers to get the job done, and done well, which encourages everyone around her to do the same. We can always count on her to take new employees under her wing and work with them until she is ready to “push them out of her nest.” She is a treasure and we are grateful to have her as our employee. Tiffany says, “Being a great nursing assistant means that individuals need to be compassionate, flexible, adaptive, and dedicated to making a positive impact in the lives of others.” She learned firsthand the significance and importance of these words and her caregiving responsibilities in 2017. Tiffany developed a blood clot on her brain after giving birth to her daughter and had to be hospitalized for several weeks. During this time she had to learn basic skills all over again. She is forever thankful for the nurses and CNAs that got her back strong and healthy so she could get back to her family and the residents she loves so dearly. Even when Tiffany is not at the facility she is helping others in her community. On her days off she regularly volunteers at a daycare center serving children with special needs, as well as in her church with the children’s ministry and community outreach programs that feed the homeless.

District V Nurse Aide of the Year

Debra Flythe started her career in 2009 as a Certified Nursing Assistant at Northampton Nursing and Rehab Center in Jackson. Through the years Debra put her college education on hold to start a family, take care of her aging parents through their last years, and be a supportive wife. When Debra’s husband retired from the military in Germany, they settled back in North Carolina close to her hometown. She promised herself she would find a career that would allow her to selflessly give back for all of the many blessings she had received through the years. During her search for a job, her heart led her to begin volunteering at a skilled nursing facility in her community. Every morning it became her greatest joy to visit with the residents. During this time she also went back to college to complete her Human Services degree. Even though she had just one semester left, Debra’s heart could not let go of those elderly residents. Thankfully for us, she switched degrees and became a CNA. Debra is dependable, friendly, compassionate, and shows great pride in her work. Her gentle spirit makes her a favorite of our residents. She is very helpful and observant when it comes to their care. Debra always takes time to sit down and talk with the residents and listen to what they have to say. She cares for them with outstanding love and kindness as if they were part of her own family. Debra has a unique gift to comfort our resident’s when they need it the most, and can always be found with a smile on her face. Debra is a team player and sets a great example for her fellow CNAs by being punctual, friendly, and extremely hardworking. She is a wonderful asset to our facility. Debra says “As a CNA I am able to work every day and do what I love to do, help others. Although each day provides new challenges that at times may be tough, I would not change my occupation. I accept each challenge as a way for personal improvement because at the end of the day my goal is to be a better CNA tomorrow than I was the day before. Debra continues, “Now, I am able to give back to others on a daily basis with my biggest reward being a smile from one of the residents or a comment from their family members as to the quality of care that I have provided their loved one.”

Riley W. Clapp Outstanding Service Recipient

Tommy Johnson has been serving residents in long term care for over thirty years in many capacities. He began his career in 1988 as a Dietary Aide and in 1991 began working as a Certified Nursing Assistant and Medication Aide. In 2009 he decided not to renew his certification but wanted to continue serving his beloved residents. Since then Tommy has worked as a cook and now is a Housekeeping Floor Technician at Piedmont Crossing in Thomasville. On any given day Tommy can be seen walking quickly up and down the hallways, cleaning resident rooms, pushing a laundry cart, or doing any task that needs to be done. No matter what job he is performing or how fast he is moving, he is always smiling. Tommy never walks past a resident or one of his co-workers without speaking their name and saying hello. Regardless of what is asked of him, Tommy will not respond with “That is not my job.” His dedication to his job responsibilities are part of his mission in life, giving our residents the best quality of life possible, which is evident on a regular basis. Tommy recently moved 80 miles away from our facility. At the same time, we lost several employees in the housekeeping department. Without hesitation, he increased his hours including working almost every weekend to make sure the housekeeping department was operational as normal for his residents. Examples of his dedication are endless. On October 11, 2018, Hurricane Michael shifted paths, and the fifteen mile per hour winds we were predicted to have quickly turned into forty-five mile per hour winds, including a heavy, sustained downpour of rain. Our 61-acre campus lost power, but our generator immediately turned on, restoring operations to our skilled nursing facility. Even though it was not his responsibility, Tommy left the facility and went out in the pouring rain to other areas of our campus to make sure residents were safe and did not need assistance. Tommy says, “No matter what job responsibilities I have had, I have always had the opportunity to be with the residents one-on-one. I get to make them smile and feel important, but most of all, I get the satisfaction of knowing that I have in some way made their lives better.